Sunday, June 22, 2014

So why does this go with that?

     So my last post was about harmony in design, a subject near and dear to my heart and one I had been wanting to write about. After I was done with it though, I started thinking and well, second guessing. It was boring. Way too simplistic. Who the heck would be interested in that stuff anyway. why do I bother and why am I so into it. My inner monologue pretty much talked me out of how inspired I was to write about it.

    The next day I was at my job, which is the accessories department of Macys. A customer came in with  a bag which contained her new dress she had bought to wear to a wedding. She said, " The problem is, I have no idea how to pick out jewelry that will go with it!"

     "Ah, my favorite thing to do!" I said, and had her show me the dress.  It was a sun dress with a bold geometric print in black, plum and white, and black around the yoke.
     Great dress, but did it match her? She was petite and fair, brunette with soft features. The challenge was not just to find a necklace that matched the dress, but one that would harmonize with the bold print of the dress and her soft features.

     We found a few pieces that went with the colors in the dress, me all the while pointing out what makes things harmonize. What we want is visual harmony, not just matchy matchy. And with the right jewelry pieces the attention is drawn up to the face, which is what you want.  Then we found a necklace that was perfect for her. Not just for the dress but for her. It had colors and shapes similar to the dress, but added a very feminine and soft touch she needed. It was the right balance between repetion and discord. Plus it was on sale and she was thrilled.

     She thanked me several times and kept saying, "I just never have a clue how to put the jewelry with the clothes. You have helped me so much! "

     It really is one aspect of my work that I love; I look forward to helping women harmonize their look. And it made me realize that my attempts at explaining visual harmony ARE worthwhile and need to be continued. So, you that find that boring, beware!

     Sometimes you just got to tell your inner voice to shut up and take a hike.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What does it take to harmonize?

         I have this great old book by Maitland Graves, called The Art of Color and Design, copyright 1951. I am pretty sure it was a textbook for the Pratt Institute of Art. It's so old school. No fluff, just sound keys and principles on good design. From this book I have learned a great deal about harmony in design.

"Harmony is a combination of units which are similar in one or more respects. 

Harmony is a medium interval or difference in one or more dimensions. Units are harmonious when one or more of their elements or qualities, such as shape, size, or color, are alike."


Take these two circles for example. They are identical in size and shape but different in color. 
They harmonize insofar as they have similar elements.  

"Complete repetition is one extreme. Here, all the units are identical in size, shape, color, value. The effect of complete repetition is monotony. 

 Discord is the opposite extreme. Discord is a combination of totally unrelated units. The effect of total dissimilarity is discord.


Good design runs the gamut from one extreme to the other.

Harmony is between the two extremes and combines the character of both. 

So somewhere between extreme monotony and extreme discord is visual harmony.
"Repetiton, harmony, or discord, therefore, is simply a matter of degree of interval or difference between units. If two units have no dimension or quality that they share in common, they are totally unrelated and represent maximum opposition or contrast. If one of their dimensions is similar or identical, the units are harmonious. If two, more harmonious. If all their dimensions are the same, the units are identical.

     These three fundamental forms, repetition, harmony, and discord, and their combinations are the basis of all art structure."